Collecting input and feedback (list and map view)

Set up your ideation, crowdsourcing or input-collection project and decide if you want to go for a list or map view.

Stijn Zwarts avatar
Written by Stijn Zwarts
Updated over a week ago

Collecting ideas or any input in a project is the core participation functionality of the CitizenLab platform. The platform offers you a wide range of options to design your ideation or input collection project to your needs. Decide if you want to collect input immediately in an input form or if you want to make your user put their ideas on a map. The customizable input form and the sorting mechanism allows you to pick how to collect the input and how to show it to your participants.

Collecting input (list view)

In the video below we explain the ‘collecting input and feedback’ participation method, which can be used on its own or as a phase in a project timeline. You’ll learn how you can collect feedback on ideas using the thumbs up/down voting tool.

You can also use this method to collect feedback and field questions on different options.

This method gives you lots of options for customizing engagement. In this video we also focus on inputs shown in a filtered list view, not on a map view. We will also show you how to edit the input form, which users will fill out when submitting an idea.


  • You can take a bottom up approach by opening up the project to ideas generated by the community

  • You can take a top down approach by getting feedback on ideas generated internally

Collecting input (map view)

In this video we focus on inputs shown in a filterable map view, not on list view.


  • This is a great tool for collecting ideas and receiving feedback that is geographically specific

  • You can add layers to your map to provide additional context about a project or area

Further detailing your input collection project

Choosing the terminology for posting input

When using the participation method 'Collect input and feedback' in a project the input you are collecting is called 'Idea' by default.

There are several other options you can choose on your platform to rename the inputs.

In addition to ideas, you can also choose Option, Project, Question, Comment and Contribution. So, you don't have to invite people to "Post an idea," you can also ask them to "Submit a question" or "Add a comment."

If you're on a standard or premium plan, you'll see the option to specify "What should an input be called?" when you're setting up your project.

Customizing the input form

In any ideation project: You can customize to way to you gather input (idea, project, comment, ...) from your community. And you can do so in the “Input form” tab of your project’s settings.

The input form builder is a powerful input collection tool. It offers ample customization options for your forms, incluing:

  • Default form fields: these are the fields/questions we suggest you make part of your consultation when crowdsourcing ideas/inputs. You can update the descriptions to provide needed context, and in most cases, you can make fields required or optional. Responses to these default fields will be public.

  • Custom form fields: if you are a Premium platform user, you will also be able to include additional fields or questions to the form: short and long text, single choice, multiple choice, linear scale, number and more. Answers to these fields will not be shown back to the user and the rest of the community upon submission. Only platform admins and project managers will be able to see submissions to custom fields.

  • Sections: you can customize the sections (include videos, text, pictures) to add context to your consultations, and equip your users with all the information they need to participate.

    • You can also drag/move entire sections to the position that makes the most sense for your consultation. Please, note these changes will not be reflected in the actual submission, only in the pre-submission form.

Access to this feature depends on your plan.

Deciding on the default sorting mechanism for your inputs

Although ideas are searchable, there are a number of ways to filter and sort the ideas and/or inputs that you see on the page to fit your liking and purpose:

Sorting Mechanisms:

  • Trending - For finding ideas that are on the rise and getting traction amongst your community.

    • There are a multiple of variables that are taken into account (e.g. number of votes, activity, engagement, recent)

  • Random - A computer-randomised arrangement of ideas (same for all users) that changes each day.

  • Most Voted - Finding ideas by the number of votes received, taking into account the ratio between up-votes and down-votes.

  • Most Recent

  • Oldest

  • Tags - Allows you to apply multiple filters for ideas based on a particular tag, category or neighbourhood

    • The sorting mechanism (i.e. 'Trending', 'Most Voted') can still be used simultaneously with the tag filter(s) applied.

Admin's Perspective:

  • When you first create a project to 'Collect Input and Feedback', you can set a default setting to the way in which inputs are sorted. However, user's will still have the ability to sort by the other categories by clicking on the dropdown button as shown from the user's perspective below.

User's Perspective:

It is not possible to change the order of the ideas and/or input in a custom order.

Simple and advanced styling of the map of your project (to re-organise)

By default, the maps on the platform use a simple and clear style, derived from Open Street Map.

This is suitable for most situations and there's no need to add more information than required. However, you can do some simple and advanced styling to the map you show to participants, for example simply visualizing the border of the area(s) for which you collect input. But you can take a step further and add different layers and zones or even pre-populate your map with active and passive pins. All this depends on how you want to use the map in your participation process. Hereunder we explain how to style your map.

Simple map styling elements

Add underlying layers (with spatial files)

Every project map can display a number of extra layers. These layers can be composed of polygons, showing regions, or point markers. Users can toggle individual layers on/off themselves. Every layer needs a name and can be configured to be toggled on or off by default.

We currently support uploading GeoJSON files with point, line and polygon features.

We recommend importing one GeoJSON file for each set of features you would like to display together. For instance, one file for community centers, a different file for neighborhoods, etc.

⚠️ The file should be in the WGS 1984 coordinate system. Other coordinate systems may not display.

Once you’ve uploaded the GeoJSON file,

  • you can edit it by giving the layer a name, and

  • you can also set a tooltip that will display when hovering above that feature on the map.

Style the features of the map

You can style the layer with a colour, and if the layer has point features in it, you can also add an icon to be displayed on the point marker.

⚠️ Note that you can only style the entire layer - that means, every feature in the layer will be given the same colour and icon.

If you would like the features in the layer to be styled differently, you can create a separate GeoJSON file for each feature that you would like to style differently.

Set the map center (longitude and latitude)

You can set the map center (e.g., where the map will be focused on) by adding the latitude and longitude coordinates. An online search for the latitude and longitude of the city or address that you’d like to center the map on should give you the results you need to input into these fields.

The format of the latitude and longitude should be using decimal numbers (e.g., 50.84778).

Set the default zoom level of the map

Similarly, you can set the zoom level you wish your map to display. You can choose from a range of 0 (very zoomed out) to 17 (zoomed in to see streets and buildings).

Good to know! You can also scroll around the map to find exactly where you would like to center and zoom in on, and use the save button on the map to set those as your map center and zoom level.

If your spatial files are not in a GeoJSON format

There are several online tools that can help convert your files from a different spatial format into a GeoJSON format. This includes mapshaper and, both of which allow you to upload a different file type and export it as a GeoJSON file.

If you don’t yet have a spatial file but would like to create your own to add to your map

Online tools such as Geoman allow you to simply create your own GeoJSON files from scratch. You can draw polygons, add points, and create lines on a map, download these features as a GeoJSON file, and upload them to your CitizenLab platform.

We highly recommend that you create one GeoJSON file for each category that you would like to display on a map. For instance, you might create one file for your project boundaries; and a second file that contains Points of Interest. You can then upload these two files separately - this will allow you to also style the layers with their own colour and show them as separate items on the map legend.

Esri add-on

If you have access to ArcGIS Online you can purchase an add-on to use Feature layers and Web maps of Esri on your maps. Read more about it in this Support article.

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